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  B-17E "Spawn of Hell" Serial Number 41-2662  
USAAF
5th AF
43rd BG
64th BS

Former Assignments
19th BG
30th BS

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Cordle c1942

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USAAF c1942

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Stevens Nov 15, 1942

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.

Wartime History
On May 21, 1942 arrived at Charleville Airfield and assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group, 30th Bombardment Squadron to pilot Lt. Donald Graham. Later based at Mareeba Airfield. On July 19, 1942 to Garbutt Field and assigned to pilot Lt. James Cables. Next, assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 64th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Spawn of Hell" or "The Spawn of Hell" with nose art of a baby on the left side of the nose.

Wartime History
On August 7, 1942 one of thirteen B-17s that took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Lt. Curtis Holdridge on a bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. The crew included: Lt. Hiram Messmore, Lincoln, NB, Lt. John Crockett, Stephens, AR, S/Sgt. Stanley Jackola, Minneapolis, MN, Sgt. Victor Lorber, Syracuse, NY, Sgt. Henry Buller, Billings, MT, J. W. Hanns South Bend, IN and tail gunnerĀ  Sgt. Vernon O. Elder, La Junta, CO.

Afterwards, continued to fly combat missions, many with 1st Raymond E. "Ray" Holsey as pilot. During September 1942, this B-17 was flown on a few missions by pilot Cecil Knudson with RAAF Pilot Officer Alan Esler as navigator.

During November 1942 transferred to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 64th Bombardment Squadron. Often flown by pilot Roger Kettleson and ball turret gunner E. P. "Lucky" Stevens.

On November 15, 1942 took off on a bombing mission against Rabaul. Returning, force landed at Batumata Point (roughly halfway between Port Moresby and Milne Bay). Afterwards, repaired and continued flying combat missions.

On May 31, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby on a combat mission. Intercepted by Japanese fighters, the crew claimed five shot down (in fact, none were lost). Aboard, five of the crew sustained minor wounds. Damaged, this B-17 landed at Dobodura Airfield. Afterwards, repaired and continued flying combat missions.

This B-17 flew combat missions until at least May 1943, often piloted by Lt. Henry Evans.

During early November 1943, one of twelve B-17s transferred to the 54th Troop Carrier Wing, 375th Troop Carrier Group and served as an armed transport. Possibly, this B-17 was nicknamed "Caroline".

On March 1, 1944, one of four B-17 armed transports that took off from Finschafen Airfield including B-17F 41-24420, B-17F 41-24548 and another B-17 made supply runs dropping weapons, ammunition, barbed wire and blood plasma to the U. S. Army 1st Calvary Division that landed on Los Negros Island at Momote Airfield, and strafed enemy positions in the area.

Ferried back to the United States. During June 1945 this B-17 was at Ontario Airfield in California. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

References
On Wings We Conquer page 183
Echoes From an Eagle page 53-54
Oz @ War - Cap' & The Kids
Beau's, Butchers & Boomerangs Mareeba - Mareeba includes a photo of this B-17
Echoes From an Eagle page 53
Thanks Steve Birdsall, Edward Rogers, Ken Bledsoe (son of Vernon O. Elder) and Janice Olson for additional information

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Last Updated
January 31, 2018

 

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B-17

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